Pac 12

Ranking the Toughest Games on Stanford's College Football Schedule in 2016

The defending Pac-12 champion Cardinal face one of the nation's most grueling gauntlets
Ranking the Toughest Games on Stanford's College Football Schedule in 2016

Defending Pac-12 champion Stanford returns a Heisman Trophy runner-up in Christian McCaffrey, talented playmakers on defense and a stout offensive line.

Pac-12 Football 2016 Predictions

Complete Pac-12 preview for 2016.
Pac-12 Football 2016 Predictions

Most preseason predictions and rankings have the Pac-12 on the outside of the playoff picture for 2016, but there’s no shortage of intrigue or potential surrounding this league. Stanford has lost only nine conference games in coach David Shaw’s tenure, and despite significant personnel losses, the Cardinal is penciled in as one of the favorites for the 2016 title.

College Football's 10 Most Explosive Running Backs Returning for 2016

Who are the top big-play runners returning for 2016?
College Football's 10 Most Explosive Running Backs Returning for 2016

Having a running back who has the ability to turn on the jets after getting to the second level of the defense and also make something out of nothing is a must for a great ground game. These running backs have the unique ability to turn ordinary plays into pay dirt and six points for the offense. They come in different shapes and sizes, but there are a few qualities each big-play back seems to possess—speed, acceleration and great vision.

Ranking the Toughest Games on Oregon's College Football Schedule in 2016

Oregon faces a challenging slate with 11 Power 5 opponents
Ranking the Toughest Games on Oregon's College Football Schedule in 2016

Oregon grew into one of Pac-12 football’s two pace-setters since 2009, splitting four of seven conference championships with rival Stanford in that time.


5 Teams That Could Surprise in Power 5 Conference Title Races in 2016

These teams aren't the favorites, but each has what it takes to win their conferences and possible qualify for the College Football Playoff
5 Teams That Could Surprise in Power 5 Conference Title Races in 2016

Athlon Sports has unveiled its projected Top 25 for the 2016 college football season.

College Football's 10 Most Explosive Receivers Returning for 2016

Who are the top big-play threats returning for 2016?
College Football's 10 Most Explosive Receivers Returning for 2016

Having a wide receiver who has the ability to stretch the field and take the top off the defense is a must for passing attacks. These receivers have the unique ability to turn ordinary plays into paydirt and six points for the offense. They come in different shapes and sizes, but there are a few qualities each big-play receiver seems to possess - speed, acceleration and great hands.

Athlon Sports College Football 2016 Team Rankings 1-128

Athlon ranks every team for the 2016 season.
College Football 2016 Team Rankings 1-128

The 2016 college football season is less than 100 days away, but the countdown to kickoff is officially underway. Athlon Sports’ 2016 College Football Preview annuals are already on newsstands across the county and available for order in the online store, hosted by Amazon. Each year, Athlon Sports produces regional preview magazines for the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, as well as a national edition with previews for all 128 teams.



#61 Colorado Buffaloes





HEAD COACH: Mike MacIntyre, 10-27 (3 years) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Brian Lindgren, Darrin Chiaverini | DEF. COORDINATOR: Jim Leavitt

Previewing Colorado’s Offense in 2016 

The big news early in the offseason in Boulder was that former Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb had committed to join Colorado as a graduate transfer. However, Webb decided in May to transfer to California instead, leaving uncertainty at the quarterback position for the Buffaloes. Three-year starter Sefo Liufau is recovering from a Lisfranc foot fracture that ended his junior season prematurely. With Webb choosing California and Liufau still recovering, redshirt freshman Steven Montez could be starting his first game in the season opener. He would compete with senior Jordan Gehrke for the job in camp - if Liufau is not back at full strength.

Colorado’s offense took a step back last season in many regards, and the inconsistency of offensive line play was a big reason why. It will be a boost to get left tackle Jeromy Irwin back from a knee injury. Center Alex Kelley and left guard Gerrad Kough return to their starting roles, making the left side of the line the strength of the unit.

Colorado has four running backs returning who have made significant contributions in the past, but there could be times this fall when all of them are on the sideline watching true freshman Beau Bisharat carry the ball.  Bisharat is the highest-rated recruit of MacIntyre’s tenure. He should help the Colorado ground game improve after ranking 87th nationally in 2015.

CU signed five wide receivers in its recent recruiting class, and it wasn’t with an eye toward the future. Junior college transfers Kabion Ento and Juwann Winfree are expected to make an immediate impact and could earn starting roles.

Order a copy of Athlon's 2016 Pac-12 College Football Preview, which includes an in-depth look at all 12 teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Colorado’s Defense in 2016 

There are a lot of players returning on this side of the ball and reason to believe the Buffaloes will continue to improve in their second season under defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt. 

Once again, the secondary appears to be the strength of the defense, with cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and safety Tedric Thompson figuring to have a chance to play in the NFL in the future. Free safety Ryan Moeller returns from injuries he suffered when he was hit by a car last season, and junior Afolabi Laguda and senior Ahkello Witherspoon bring versatility and experience. Young cornerbacks Nick Fisher and Isaiah Oliver should be improved after being thrown to the fire as true freshmen a year ago. 

Three different linebackers have led the team in tackles the past three seasons, and they’re all back. Senior Kenneth Olugbode, junior Addison Gillam and sophomore Rick Gamboa, along with junior college transfer Drew Lewis, will compete for the two starting jobs at inside linebacker, but they ought to be able to keep each other fresh regardless of who starts. 

The defensive line and pass rush should be stout with senior Josh Tupou expected back from a year-long suspension. He will team with Derek McCartney, Jimmie Gilbert, Jordan Carrell and Leo Jackson, who were impact players in 2015.


Previewing Colorado’s Specialists in 2016 

Colorado allowed six blocked kicks last season, which led to the firing of the former special teams coordinator and splitting those duties among the staff. Punter Alex Kinney averaged 38.1 net yards per punt, and placekicker Diego Gonzalez made only 18-of-29 field goal attempts, including 3-of-7 from 30-39 yards. 


Final Analysis

This will be the most experienced team CU has had in years. The pieces are in place for the Buffaloes to finally make a jump up the Pac-12 standings, especially if Liufau returns at full strength in time for the season opener. No one is expecting Colorado to contend for a title, but the program must continue to show progress in MacIntyre’s fourth year on the job.



#90 Oregon State Beavers





HEAD COACH: Gary Andersen, 2-10 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Kevin McGiven, T.J. Woods | DEF. COORDINATOR: Kevin Clune

Gary Andersen's debut at Oregon State resulted in just two wins last season, but everyone was aware of the rebuilding project he was taking on. Year 2 should show more signs of progress, but how much remains to be seen with just 10 starters returning and new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

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Previewing Oregon State’s Offense in 2016

Oregon State hopes to make a vast improvement in 2016 after ranking 115th nationally in scoring offense with only 19.0 points per game. The first step would be better quarterback play after a tumultuous carousel last season saw Seth Collins, Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion all make at least one start and combine to rank 116th nationally in passing offense (159.1 ypg) and 121st in quarterback rating (96.9). Now, Utah State transfer Darell Garretson has officially joined the fold after tallying 2,586 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 games over two seasons at his former school. 

Collins, meanwhile, has moved to a multi-dimensional “slash” role following a bizarre offseason saga in which he announced his decision to transfer before opting to return to the Beavers in the middle of spring practice. Collins’ explosive athleticism — which was on display when he lined up at receiver, running back and quarterback in the 2015 finale against Oregon — adds another weapon to an intriguing group of skill players that includes 6'2", 235-pound running back Ryan Nall, receivers Victor Bolden and Jordan Villamin and speedy running back/receiver Paul Lucas. 

Veteran Sean Harlow will anchor an offensive line that lost standouts Isaac Seumalo and Josh Mitchell but returns several pieces with starting experience.

Order a copy of Athlon's 2016 Pac-12 College Football Preview, which includes an in-depth look at all 12 teams, features and predictions for the upcoming season.

Previewing Oregon State’s Defense in 2016

Oregon State also struggled mightily on this side of the ball in 2015, ranking 114th nationally in scoring defense while transitioning to a 3-4 base system. This season, the Beavers have a new coordinator in Kevin Clune after Kalani Sitake left Corvallis to take the head coaching job at BYU. And there are plenty of spots up for grabs, after the Beavers lost their biggest contributor at each level in defensive lineman Kyle Peko (exhausted eligibility), linebacker Rommel Mageo (transferred to Ole Miss) and safety Justin Strong (transferred to Montana). 

Junior college transfer Phillip Napoleon is a potential immediate impact player at defensive end. The secondary is full of players who redshirted last season, as cornerbacks Jay Irvine, Xavier Crawford and Shawn Wilson and safeties Jalen Moore and Omar Hicks-Onu will challenge returning contributors Treston Decoud, Dwayne Williams, Kendall Hill, Brandon Arnold and Devin Chappell for playing time. 

The two gems of OSU’s 2016 recruiting class — safety Shurod Thompson and cornerback Christian Wallace — are in the back end, and the Beavers also stockpiled players at the hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot in hopes of creating more pressure on the quarterback in 2016. Early enrollee Shemar Smith already made an impression at that spot during spring practice.
Related: Athlon's 2016 College Football Rankings: No. 1 to 128

Previewing Oregon State’s Specialists in 2016

The Beavers return the key contributors on special teams. Garrett Owens made 11-of-15 field goals with a long of 50 yards last season, while Nick Porebski averaged 41.1 yards per punt with a long of 66 yards. Bolden, an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection as an all-purpose player a season ago, is dynamic on returns — as evidenced by his 78-yard punt return for a touchdown against Oregon. 

Final Analysis
The Beavers should take positive steps in Year 2 of Gary Andersen’s massive rebuild. But how will that progress show up in the win-loss column while navigating the difficult Pac-12, where the Beavers have lost 21 of their last 23 contests? Oregon State’s schedule includes road dates with defending champion Stanford, upstart Washington and always-talented UCLA to go along with non-conference contests at Minnesota and against Boise State. Even if the Beavers improve drastically on both sides of the ball, they will likely still need a few more years before consistently competing in the Pac-12.
The Debate

Where Does Gary Andersen Rank Among Pac-12 Coaches?

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